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Upbeat Verstappen shrugs off final day spin

Max Verstappen - Red Bull Racing Bull hits problem
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Max Verstappen suffered an unfortunate end to his first week of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

The Dutch driver had just completed his first timed lap of the day on soft compounds - after sitting out much of the morning's wet conditions - when he suddenly spun off at the turn 12 long right-hander.

The session was red-flagged to allow the RB14 to be extracted from the gravel trap. It was placed on a flatbed truck and returned to pit lane, where Red Bull personnel did their best to ensure no photographs were taken of the underside of the car.

Verstappen didn't return to the track after the incident. He admitted later that he'd made a small mistake, which was then compounded by a gearbox glitch.

"I had a little moment where I went into the gravel," he told reporters. "I tried to find the reverse but it got stuck. We have to look at why that happened."

"The issues we had today are easy fixes," insisted Guillaume Rocquelin, Red Bull's head of race engineering. "In general we're pretty happy with how the car runs.

"We are reasonably happy with what the RB14 delivered in its first outing," he continued. "We now have a bit of time back at base to work on next week's test. Hopefully the weather conditions will be a bit kinder."

As a result of his mishap, Verstappen ended the day ninth fastest. That was almost three seconds off the time set by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. But he wasn't troubled by the outcome at this early stage of 2018 preparations.

"I'm not too worried yet," he insisted. "You know Mercedes and Ferrari are going to be strong anyway.

"Everything seemed to work well," he added. "I'm quite happy with the car so far. In the second week maybe we'll show a bit more."

Although much better than Wednesday's wash-out session, the track conditions once again caused frustration.

"We didn't do any performance laps," he said. "We didn't want to run when it was that wet. It didn't make sense for us.

"When you have conditions such as this, which are not ideal, then it's best to just focus on making sure everything is working in the way you want," he said.

He added that the team had focussed on checking that the data from the track correlated with the wind tunnel results.

"When the track was drying out, we went out on the intermediates," he commented. "We did our own programme, just checking the car on the slick tyres on very short runs.

"When we wanted to go for longer runs, we had a little hiccup," he continued. "We had a leak, so we were just checking the whole car. It took longer than expected."

Despite the inevitable setbacks, Verstappen believes the RB14 could prove to be a winner.

"It's a big difference [on 2017], the way the car is handling. And I think it's in a positive way," he said.

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